We recently had the pleasure of working with the awesome folks at GovLoop on an information architecture and design project. The purpose: to give GovLoop a quick facelift and use the Ning API to develop new “community pages” to make it easier for users to find content on key topics. If you’re interested in learning more about the changes, check out Jeff Ribera’s recent post on GovLoop and Govloop's founder Steve Ressler's 5 Tips on a Website Redesign.
For anyone unfamiliar with GovLoop, it is a great case study on how to build a successful online community. Since its inception in 2008, GovLoop has grown to 50,000 users from all levels of government and the private sector and is THE preeminent online community for anyone interested in innovations in government. GovLoop’s phenomenal growth and success has also created quite a content management challenge, as users must sift through some 15,000 blog posts, 5,000 forum discussions, 2,500 events, and over 15 different types of content.
This was our first time in a couple of years working with Ning. We were pleasantly surprised at what could be accomplished using the API to develop the community pages, which aggregate content for seven broad topical areas of interest to the community. We were also able to do all the design prototyping in the browser so we could instantly know what could and couldn't work. Although this was a “quick and dirty” project, we were happy with our ability to make some improvements and help move GovLoop away from an out-of-the-box Ning look and feel.
Over the past few years, we have primarily recommended Ning for clients when we need to quickly spin up an online community in advance of an event, or for clients who need to launch a private social network quickly on a tight budget. Based on our experience on this project and what we could do with the API, we will start giving Ning a harder look, even for clients who need to go beyond the out-of-the-box Ning functionality.